Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Chez Madame Arthur

2170 Rue Bishop today
Chez Madame Arthur

Location: 2170 Bishop Street, Montreal, Canada

Opened: 1971

Closed: 1975

I found the first reference to Chez Madame Arthur in an article by Julie A. Podmore called "Gone 'underground'? Lesbian visibility and the consolidation of queer space in Montreal." It is an interesting piece, though written in a somewhat dense, academic style. I am reproducing what Podmore said about Chez Madame Arthur below, though without all the citation data.

In 1978, Marie-Claire Blais published Les nuits de l'Underground [Nights in the Underground], a novel that described the night world of Montreal lesbian bars in the 1970s. Much of the story was set in 'The Underground,' a fictitious bar widely believed to be Chez Madame Arthur, a bar that was located on Bishop Street from 1971 to 1975. This 1970s location represents an important shift in both the lesbian and gay geographies of Montreal. Chez Madame Arthur was part of a small cluster of bars serving a lesbian clientele that developed to the west of the established gay district on Stanley Street after 1968. Between 1968 and 1981 there were six lesbian bars located in this area, including Chez Madame Arthur, Chez Jilly's and Chez Babyface.

Podmore goes on to observe that all these lesbian bars were somewhat dispersed from one another in location, and were largely located outside the larger gay male district.

There is also a discussion of a 1974 boycott of Chez Madame Arthur over harassment by the male bar staff and owners.

Then there is this discussion of Chez Madame Arthur in Gay Studies from the French Cultures:

In the 1970s, lesbian bars opened in various parts of the city [i.e. Montreal]. The early years of the decade were a transitional period. One popular bar of the time, Chez Madame Arthur, benefitted from a convergence of favorable conditions: police surveillance was at a minimum, the feminist and gay movements were in full swing and a number of regular customers were developing a collective sense of lesbian identity. In terms of age, ethnic origin and social status, the club attracted a more varied clientele than its predecessors.

To find out more about the 1974 boycott, see here, though the translation from the French is rather awkward.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.